RE: “Upcoming weeks ‘critical’ for Whistler to get handle on COVID,” Pique, Nov. 12—while there is much for each of us to consider during what we hope is the final peak of this pandemic, one of Dr. Karen Kausky’s comments [in the article] bears repeating: “We’ve also had a massive increase in the amount of testing that we’re doing, which is really difficult in a small community with not a lot of practitioners.”
Take a moment to consider how busy the Whistler Medical Clinic staff and its six doctors are during normal times, then add another 70 COVID-19 tests a day.
Recently, staff and physicians from the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC) and Town Plaza Medical Centre have been able to help with COVID-19 testing. Still, the pandemic is generating a lot of stress on our local healthcare system.
Let’s recognize the good work these people are doing.
Bob Barnett // Whistler
(Editor's note: Town Plaza Medical does COVID-19 screening and arranges for patients needing testing to be seen at the testing unit at the WHCC.)
Dr. Bonnie Henry on masks and COVID-19
British Columbians have been nimble in adapting their individual actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities over the last 10 months, and it has had a big impact.
Our actions have helped keep our hospitals, schools and workplaces open—and protect the ones we love.
Such essential actions include maintaining a safe distance from others, cleaning our hands and staying home if we get sick. Using masks appropriately is another important example of an individual act that results in a collective good. Each of these is a layer of protection to guard against a virus that never rests.
Some people are asking when we will see masks mandated in B.C. The answer is that they already are. The mandate to use masks appropriately is a cornerstone of businesses’ and organizations’ COVID-19 safety plans, and is embedded in our healthcare facilities’ operational policies and restart protocols in other public institutions.
Despite how it might appear when we watch the news or go on social media, research shows that most of us in B.C. are doing the right things most of the time. Ordering universal mask use in all situations creates unnecessary challenges with enforcement and stigmatization. We need only look at the COVID-19 transmission rates in other jurisdictions that have tried using such orders to see what little benefit these orders by themselves have served. We also know that when orders and fines are in place, it is racialized people and those living in poverty or homeless who are most often targeted.
Each day, we are continuing to learn more about the virus and how it spreads. Right now, we are seeing rapid transmission in social gatherings where masks would not be worn anyway, in certain workplaces and risky indoor settings, like group fitness activities. Provincial health officer orders are always a last resort and we have used them carefully to address these recent trends.
The orders we have in place now complement our clear and expressed expectation that people will wear masks in indoor public places like shopping malls, stores, on ferries and transit.
Our orders also mandate that businesses and workplaces must have COVID-19 safety plans in place. These should include mask-wearing in addition to: barriers; reduced numbers of people in spaces; screening of workers and the public; and availability of hand cleaning and sanitation. Staff and customers must abide by these plans and businesses must offer virtual, online or contactless alternatives to customers who cannot wear a mask. COVID-19 safety plans are enforceable and something businesses and workplaces now plan for and have in place, in accordance with our orders.
We know that people want to do the right thing when they understand the reasons behind our thinking and have the tools they need to do what is asked of them. Mask use is important, and we need everyone to have the same understanding of our expectations. Wearing a mask will never eliminate all risks, but it is a significant part of the layers of protection that can help protect us, our loved ones and our community. Now more than ever, it is a measure we must all take.
An order can never replace our personal commitment. We need to be responsible for our own actions—that is how we all pull together. I wear a mask, and I expect each of you who can to wear one, too.
Dr. Bonnie Henry // Provincial Health Officer
(Editor's note: this letter was published before Dr. Bonnie Henry made masks mandatory in B.C. on Thursday, Nov. 20.)
A slice of Whistler
Rosemary and I were walking back home from a trip to the grocery store when we came upon four young guys in a small park. With all the great new snow, but the ski lifts not open, and itching to do something, they had built a miniature ski-rail.
They were taking turns being the skier with the other three doing any maintenance needed after each daring ride along the rail.
When we came along, the next skier was sitting down in the trees, on the steep slope beside the park. As far as I could judge things, everyone had made a few runs and they were on Round 3 or 4.
I re-positioned myself for the action and waited to see how the skier performed. He successfully completed a 180. Not bad for pre-season tricks.
The world will survive, despite an election-loser or pandemics.
David Malaher // Whistler
Helping those with dementia prepare for the holidays
The winter season brings along with it many different festivals and holidays and, for many Whistler residents, socializing with family, friends and our wider community. The current COVID-19 situation is presenting new challenges and uncertainty to what can be an already stressful time—a feeling that is even more acute for people affected by dementia.
Remembering a grandchild’s name, being included in group conversations or visiting a new place are all experiences that may challenge a person living with the disease and affect their experience of the holidays. To increase awareness and provide strategies to help local caregivers and people living with dementia prepare for the holidays during COVID-19, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is offering free webinars.
This year’s holiday gatherings will undoubtedly look different and that uncertainty can add additional challenges for people living with dementia, caregivers, family members and friends.
Nov. 25 will be the first of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s new “Lived experience” webinar series, which is created by people with lived experience of the disease. In this webinar at 2 p.m., two people living with dementia will share the impact of COVID-19 on their preparations for this holiday season. This session will focus on the experience that people living with dementia have and explore why it looks different, including the differences for someone who lives with a partner compared to someone who lives alone in the community.
The Society hosts free dementia education webinars every week for anyone affected by dementia or interested in learning more. The upcoming webinar schedule includes:
• Virtual visits: Making the most of video calling (Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2 p.m.): Explore strategies to maximize success when video calling.
• Long-distance caregiving (Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m.): Practical tips for caregivers on providing meaningful caregiving support from a distance.
• Driving and dementia (Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2 p.m.): Learn how dementia may affect a person’s driving abilities and strategies to ease the transition for driving cessation. This webinar is for caregivers and people living with dementia.
To register for any of these webinars, please visit alzbc.org/webinars.
Carly Gronlund // Provincial coordinator, Vancouver